This week…. Ballasting!

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Yep, it’s that mundane task that we all have to go through at some point. Maybe it’s because I’ve only got a smallish single track layout, but I’ve actually enjoyed it. I tried out a couple of methods on a test piece but in the end went with the old and tested method of applying the ballast dry, wetting with water and fairy liquid before fixing with 50/50 water/pva. The first results were seen a month or so ago when I ballasted the area in front of the platform. I suppose although ballasting was the main focus, it is also the start of the scenic modelling on the layout, something I’m genuinely excited about.

I suppose my approach, was similar to how I would approach weathering a wagon or locomotive. For several days before hand I studied photos of the area around Cwm Prysor and although these were black and white, it gave me a good idea of how things should look, in particular the trackbed of the loop.

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The overall finish I’m really pleased with, but it took several hours to get the desired effect. The basis of the loop trackbed was Treemendus Earth Powder. Geoff Taylor had recommended this to me, and it’s a great substance to work with. I’m not sure what it’s made up of, but ‘Earth Powder’ really sums up the results. This was sprinkled on top of diluted PVA, before then adding the odd sprinkle of fine ballast. I then turned to Busch fine black ballast, a black sand substance which works well to represent ash ballast. This was also used as the basis for the the siding. Once applied though it didn’t look quite right, so after some further thought I decided to add some powder. This had the desired effect I was after, giving a textured feel. To create slight discolouration to the ballast, I added a dirty wash through a pipette which I found soaks evenly into the ballast giving a natural look as it seeps outward.

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The buffer stop has come out rather well I think. It’s the standard GWR design produced by Lanarkshire Models and has been on the layout for several months. It had been sprayed brown when the track  work was done. However yesterday it was brush painted (along with the rail edges) with Revell 84. Once dry this was given a wash with AK interactive rust streaks. This same method was applied to the rail edges and  I think has created the desired effect.

A rather productive weekend I think and it’s one less thing to do. Next week I’m going to Das the bridge buttresses in preparation for carving the stone work, the results have been quite successful on the culvert portal, and with some advice on painting the stone work from Geoff Taylor. Once that is in place I can mod rock the surrounding area and begin making the lake.

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So we are getting there I think and the target for summer is still looking favourable. I’m still learning, but the important thing is I’m still enjoying this strange, crazy yet wonderful hobby we share in.

2017 – Cwm Prysor’s Time!

Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to everyone.

You may have noted things have been rather quiet around these parts. I have decided to cut down my online presence as I felt I was saturating my work by posting on the FB page, modelling forums and here. It seems best to focus on one place, and those that are interested will find me here, on the blog. I also needed the Christmas period to rid myself of some demons, so it’s fair to say 2017 feels like a real fresh start.

So, to kick things off…. those of you that read the model railway magazines may have seen I had an article in this months Railway Modeller on the goods stock for Cwm Prysor. It was an interesting article to write and I can’t thank Steve Flint and Railway Modeller enough for giving me the opportunity to share my ramblings. What is nice is that this article, and the subsequent two I’ve written, are all gearing up for the big one…’Cwm Prysor’ which will be appearing in the Modeller (probably next year).

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As for Cwm Prysor, I took a break from the layout over Christmas, but since the New Year progress has been coming on well. The platform is now in place, the landscape is fully formed around it and we even have the shelter in place (courtesy of Geoff Taylor). The station area has had plasticard added so there is a nice flat base for the station building, plus a seamless join into the level crossing.

Recent work though has seen the dilapidated snow defences put into place. I’ve seen a photo from around 1910 where these sleeper defences are all standing in place, neat and proper. By the 1950s though, they were really uncared for and that is how they are represented on the layout. Special thank to Tim Horn for supplying the laser cut sleepers.

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Finally, I’ve begun work on the over bridge at the Blaenau end of the layout. Tim kindly laser cut the MDF pieces for the buttresses to my specifications. The bridge itself I have no photos of it, so I’ve based it on the one further down the line at Capel Celyn. The girders are by plaststruct with 20 thou plasticard on top. The railings are from Geoff Taylor’s etched range of building accessories. These need shortening which will be done tomorrow, before I primer the girder/railings and spray satin black. The buttresses will be coated in Das modelling clay, and then a few weeks later the stone work will be scribed.

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Everything is coming together nicely, I’ve ordered the scenic bits to do the lake and stream and all the grass work is here for when it’s needed. So there is lots going on at the moment!

2017 is Cwm Prysor’s year!

‘Dad and Lass’ courtesy of Modelu – forever on my layouts….

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Have a Brake? Have a Ki…. Pipe Wagon

While the hordes flock to Warley this weekend to froth and dribble over the latest releases, I decided to focus on the workbench.

I picked up a Bachmann Pipe and Tube wagon earlier in the year, before I knew whether I could actually use them. Thankfully, after discussing this matter with an ex railwayman who worked the Blaenau Branch, the answer was most definitely yes. Pipe/Tube and bolsters of all sorts were in use while the construction of Trawsfynydd Power Station was under way in the late 50s.

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I’m still deciding as to what load to add to the pipe. I’ve a Duha large pipe, but I’m wondering if it’s a bit big….. I can muse over that later.

It’s somewhat ironic that my attention turned to Brake Vans this weekend. Primarily I had decided to remove Springside lamps that I’d fitted to my Bachmann BR 20T Van and replace with Modelu lamps. It was worth the effort as the lamps really look the part.

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It was with ‘Brake Vans’ in mind that I realised I had a part finished van on my shelf. One of the newer Hornby examples I picked up at York Show 2015. I had added Masokit lamp irons, instanter couplings and the correct earlier type buffers (an error on Hornby’s part). However for some reason I had stopped and moved onto something else.

Last night I began by adding the underslung Vac type variant, before giving the model several washes. This morning I did some final work with the airbrush, before some final weathering detail on the roof and under frame.

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As a model, I think the Hornby one has the edge over the Bachmann model. It should also be noted that when I bought the Hornby Model, the RRP was around £13.50-£14.00, where as the Bachmann model is double the price!

This gives me another Brake Van for Cwm Prysor, while I also have a Frogmore AA3 kit that I’m horse trading construction to Tony Wright. There was one allocated to Bala for specific use on the Blaenau Branch.  I also have an LMS one in the RTR box, which can certainly be used (I’ve a photo of one on a train at Corwen).

Now I purposefully said ‘ironically’ regarding working on Brake Vans this weekend. The irony being that Hornby have announced this weekend they are to produce an all new AA15 Toad #punchtheair (apologies, I do sound like exactly the clientele I referenced at the beginning of this article). What this does mean is my Bachmann Toad, (and all on the workbench) will be retired from service. The current expected date is Autumn 2017, so this means although I wont have one for my first show (Hartlepool), I should have one for the first show of 2018.

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Operating the full layout….properly!

Today has been an eventful one!

This afternoon I took delivery of the Cwm Prysor Fiddleyards from Tim Horn. Things didn’t go as smooth as hoped initially, regarding mating the boards to the main layout…..eventually though, we got there.

Here is how things look now!

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Blaenau Ffestiniog/Trawsfynydd Fiddleyard below. The cassettes are split into loco, single coach passenger and two coach passenger/goods trains. They are clipped together with bulldog clips and the beauty of this, is it allows locos to be taken off and turned without actually handling them. However, do not touch both sides of the cassette at the same time when connected to the layout! 😉

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Bala Fiddleyard below. The cassettes are connected to a transition piece which draws it’s power off the main board tracks temporarily. However for shows it will have it’s own connectors off the main bus wires.

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Some extra items from Tim, the frontage to the platform made from laser cut MDF (sadly the brick work isn’t going to be visible to the public, because it looks very nice!)

The platform itself will be made up from polystyrene which will then blend into the hillside as the real thing did. Also can be seen is the entry culvert for the stream that ran into Llyn Tryweryn. This will be covered in Das modelling clay, before being carved to represent the stone work.

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It’s been very enjoyable to actually run trains over the full length of the layout tonight. The only thing, is I must not get too distracted running trains, or I’ll never get the layout finished!

Thanks for your patience today Tim! It was well worth the effort!

 

 

Welsh Odyssey Part 2

Apologies is the delay in getting Part 2 posted.

I was rather pleased with the evening photos I had taken from Friday night, but they were nothing compared to what I was to see on Saturday morning. I left my B&B at 7.30am and took the short drive up to Cwm Prysor. Nature really knows how to do it!

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The morning mist across Llyn Tryweryn was particularly atmospheric.

I then headed back down to Trawsfynydd to take some photos at Llyn Trawsfynydd and as dawn broke across the Rhinogs.

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Back at the B&B I had a good hearty Welsh Breakfast, and headed off to Porthmadog. The original plan was to do the Welsh Highland. However I had decided to cut the weekend short due to my Dad’s health, and felt the WHR was going to be a touch too long at a 6 hour round trip, so I decided to travel on the Ffestiniog.

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As we set out from Porthmadog, I really couldn’t believe how lucky I had been with the weather. The view across the Cob sums this up well!

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After a truly spectacular journey, I decided to head home, via Cwm Prysor to get some close up shots of the remaining crossing gate and dry stone walls….. there were no trains today….

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Although only a short trip, it’s left me feeling inspired to crack on with the layout. Things are coming together and I think it’s fair to say, with the landscaping to the front of the layout nearly formed, I’ll be starting the scenic work in the new year.

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My focus now is to have the layout finished by the Summer, as Railway Modeller are hopefully coming up to take photos for an article I’m writing.

Happy Days! 🙂

Cwm Prysor developments….

Since the last update, with the layout now wired, things have continued to move in a positive direction. 🙂

The track has been painted, initially with a coat of Grey Primer and then secondly with a coat of Halfords ‘Camouflage Brown’, as recommended by Jim Smith-Wright. The results of which are very pleasing and have just the right look for a basic coat. Plus it blends the SMP and  timber sleepers together quite nicely. I’ve now painted the entire landscape to the rear of the track, just to give a good earth texture before scenic work begins.

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I have also been doing some ‘Ballasting Experiments’ which have proven interesting. I initially tried the method of adding PVA first, then lots of ballast before hoovering the excess up. The results were not great, with the ballast sticking and bulging out between the sleepers. I therefore went back to the conventional method of diluted PVA sprayed before hand with water with a drop of washing up liquid. The results were far better as can be seen below. I have been trialling two ballast types, Woodland Scenics ‘blended gray’ Medium and Fine. I already have one I prefer, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

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I was originally going to begin ballasting the layout next, but I have decided it’s going to be best to start landscaping the front of the layout….that way the modrock stage is done, without effecting the ballast work.

Next weekend I head up to North Wales again, this time to stay for a few days as a sort of mini break, which will involve be taking in the delights of the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways. What I am looking forward to though, is meeting up with some friends, one of which being the ex signalman from Bala I have mentioned before. We are going to have a bit of a sight seeing tour with a look around Capel Celyn, Arenig…..oh and possibly this place for some reason! 😉

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In other news, I have just finished writing another article for Railway Modeller on ‘Goods Traffic for Cwm Prysor’ It has been an enjoyable experience once again to be writing for the Modeller and hopefully will be published the beginning of next year. Tony Wright has kindly taken some lovely studio photographs of my stock which should look very nice in print.

That’s all for now! 🙂

Tom

 

The Finishing Touches

With a great deal of time off during the Summer, I’ve thrown myself in to more goods stock for Cwm Prysor. The LMS vans I built several months ago, are now in Bauxite and two of them are now finished. I focussed on D1978 first, which was built from a Ratio body, Parkside under frame, with Lanarkshire Buffers, Vents and Vac Pipes. Screwlinks were made up from the Masokits etch.

As well as this van, another 16T has been through the works this week. I wanted to take it a little further than the last one, working from a photo from Trawsfynydd in 1959.

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The more I have been looking through prototype photographs, the more I have felt my Van stock has been lacking that final little detail…. chalk markings. Just looking through the superb prototype section of Geoff Kent’s 4mm Wagon Volume 2, you can see a variety of scribbles all over the vans.

I’ve seen various methods for producing chalk markings, some more successful than others. It was on a google search I came across some convincing scribblings, and to my (not so much) surprise, it was the work of Ian Fleming. Ian had used a mapping pen with white ink which gave a rather nice result. A mapping pen and white ink were duly ordered via Amazon and arrived this morning. I practiced on some spare Van sides, before trying it out on D1978. I tried to pick locations local….and not so local seen as Vans are common user.

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This older LMS van (D1676) you may remember from a previous blog post. I had worked from a photo in Geoff’s Book (Vol 2 again) and have based one side on the chalk markings (page 38). The other side I went for something a bit more local to the branch… 😉

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Finally, and the latest van off the workbench is this, a BR Dia 1/204. The design of this is very much the last of LMS family, but was produced by BRITISH RAILWAYS. The model was produced from the old airfix body (now available by Dapol), a Parkside under frame, and again Lanarkshire Models for the detailing bits.

I wanted it to look different than D1976, so went for a far lighter approach. In my mind as a new build in 1950, it had been overhauled around 1956…so my model is probably 6 months-12 months after overhaul. Again I tried to give the chalk markings a local flavour as well as touch more distant.

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So what is next? Well I would like to add the odd poster to some of these… not on everyone of them, but just enough to give a touch of variety and individualism. Overall this as been an enjoyable process once again, and hopefully will just add that little bit extra realism to the layout when it’s done. 🙂